My hamster died
My hamster died last week. This was especially hard as Jennifer's died the week before. We found Jennifer's in the morning, cold and rigid in her nest, and we took her out to bury her. For my hamster, though, it was different.
Last Thursday evening, Jennifer called me at work and told me that she thought the hamster was dead. This impacted me, but I had an important presentation the next day and needed to stay and finish it. I tried to keep my mind off of it. Fifteen minutes later Jenn called back and told me that she wasn't sure it was dead, that it seemed to be moving, and asked me to come home.
He was not doing well. He was breathing very shallowly and infrequently. He did not seem responsive. When I picked him up, he opened his eyes and squirmed a little. Jenn told me that was the most she had seen him move yet.
He looked like he did not have very long. I held him and stroked him and tried to keep him awake. I blew some air at him regularly. I strongly believed he would not come out of this. An hour later I decided I needed to hear it from someone else. I took him to the animal hospital in town. They agreed.
I took him home, made a small blanket out of fabric, kept him warm and kept stroking him. His breathing was becoming increasingly strained. His breath rattled, and after a certain point he made a little squeak at each breath. I was an emotional wreck. I held him for nearly two and a half hours in total. He would breathe every ten seconds or so. His final breath did not seem any different. He just inhaled and never exhaled. We buried him that night.
Life is precious. I, as a vegan, try to live this concept in everyday life. The hamster lived for fifteen months, enough time for me to bond but not long enough for the death to be understandable. He had a personality. He displayed curiosity. He had goals and made efforts. He was alive.
I miss him.
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Edit 2010-01-11: This new hamster friend of mine is not likely to die. I keep him on my Google Desktop and play with him through the day. It's surprisingly satisfying:
You can find the hamster's page at http://abowman.com/google-modules/hamster/.